Hen­rico’s de­fense se­cures play­off win

Fight leads to ejec­tion of QB, but War­riors hold lead

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - 804 VARSITY - BY ERIC KOLENICH

It was the Hen­rico de­fense that lim­ited Varina to a mea­ger 75 yards of of­fense. It was the de­fense that forced four turnovers, and it was the de­fense that made sure Varina wasn’t com­ing back af­ter Hen­rico lost its quar­ter­back in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Third-seeded Hen­rico held on for a 28-13 vic­tory over sixth-seeded Varina on Fri­day night and will travel to L.C. Bird next week in the sec­ond round of the Class 5, Re­gion B play­offs.

Quar­ter­back Jalon Jones was ejected for fight­ing late in the sec­ond quar­ter. Jones had made sev­eral big plays un­til that mo­ment, throw­ing for 170 yards and two touch­downs and rush­ing for 70 yards.

But with 36 sec­onds re­main­ing in the sec­ond quar­ter, he threw an in­ter­cep­tion to Varina’s Lavar Mal­lory. As Mal­lory re­turned the in­ter­cep­tion to­ward the Hen­rico end zone, Jones was blocked by Varina’s Li­nard Scott, and the two tus­sled.

Sev­eral punches were thrown, then Jones re­moved Scott’s hel­met and threw it into the nearby woods. Both play­ers were ejected.

A fight­ing ejec­tion means a two-game sus­pen­sion for Jones.

When Jones was on the field, Hen­rico’s of­fense was dynamic. He con­nected with Ja’Had Carter for two touch­down passes. He also tucked the ball and ran for 70 yards on one play.

But without Jones on the field, of­fen­sive yardage was sparse. Hen­rico man­aged 61 yards of of­fense in the sec­ond half.

With the of­fense not gen­er­at­ing much pro­duc­tion, the de­fense got the job done. Varina’s Isiah Page re­turned the open­ing

kick­off of the sec­ond half 75 yards for a touch­down, cut­ting Hen­rico’s lead to 21-13. Then Varina man­aged just one first down the rest of the game.

“We played as a team,” linebacker Joey Jef­fer­son said. “Eleven hats to the foot­ball.”

Jef­fer­son had the de­fense’s big­gest high­light in the sec­ond quar­ter when he in­ter­cepted a pass and re­turned it 12 yards for a touch­down. Rolling to his left in cov­er­age, he leaped up to grab the ball with one hand.

“He’s been wait­ing for that mo­ment for a long time,” linebacker Khalil Fin­ger said.

A two-year starter, Jef­fer­son isn’t one of the big names on the Hen­rico ros­ter. But he’s a guy who al­ways shows up in key mo­ments, Fin­ger said. At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, Jef­fer­son is thick.

“He hits ev­ery­thing,” Carter said.

It was a big first half for Carter, a se­nior re­ceiver bound for Vir­ginia Tech, who fin­ished with six catches for 92 yards for two touch­downs and an in­ter­cep­tion on de­fense. He missed sev­eral games be­cause of dis­ci­pline, re­turn­ing last week.

“I got my swag­ger back,” Carter said.

On his first touch­down, he caught a screen pass, broke a tackle and put his speed on dis­play, tear­ing 19 yards to the end zone. On his sec­ond, he ran a post route, went low to catch the pass, scooped it into his chest and rolled onto the grass.

When Jones com­pleted passes to Carter, it was al­most as if the field wasn’t mud, as if it hadn’t been soaked with a day’s worth of rain.

Then backup Hay­den Vozar en­tered, and the of­fense plod­ded more and jived less. But it got one good drive in the fourth quar­ter, good enough for Marqe Har­vey to rush 20 yards for a touch­down and stretch the lead to 15 points.

“I told him, it’s no dif­fer­ent when (Jones) was in the game,” Fin­ger said. “Go fin­ish this game and we have your back. We don’t have start­ing po­si­tions. We’re all one.”


ABOVE: Hen­rico’s Khalil Fin­ger jumps on a loose ball in the War­riors’ 28-13 vic­tory over Varina. LEFT: Hen­rico’s Jalon Jones gets into a fight with Varina’s Lorenz Terry. Both play­ers were ejected, and without Jones, the War­riors’ of­fense slowed in the sec­ond half.

Class 5, Re­gion B first round HEN­RICO 28, VARINA 13

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